On the eve of the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the United States, a tense meeting was held in Washington on just how much progress has been made in the Iraq war.
West-Central Missouri Congressman Ike Skelton, a Democrat, chaired the joint meeting of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees. Skelton acknowledged progress from the military surge begun in February, but placed it in a historical prospective, "The surge is just the latest in a long line of operations. It frankly looks as if there has been tactical progress in the security area, but we should at this point temper any enthusiasm with the caveat that this is Iraq, and nothing has been easy there."
Skelton told the joint hearing that one of the great ironies of the hearing was the General David Petraeus "is almost certainly the right man for the job in Iraq, but he’s the right person three years too late and 250,000 troops short."
Patraeus stated he has recommended a drawdown of US force starting later this month with the withdrawal of a Marine unit. He said further withdrawals could continue into next year, with US troop strength reaching about 130,000 by mid-July 2008.
Skelton praised the work of the American military throughout his comments and stuck to a hard line on the Iraqi government
"It appears to this country lawyer that the leaders and parliamentarians of Iraq have been sitting on their thumbs while the young men and woman of America are doing their best to bring security (to Iraq)," Skelton stated in questioning Ambassador Ryan Crocker.
Crocker acknowledged that he is frustrated as well with the lack of political progress in Iraq.